The Raptors 905 are back in Mississauga after a couple of games in Fort Wayne to start the regular season. Since the Toronto Raptors are in the midst of a
homestand “border stand,” it’s customary to send everyone they can to the ‘Sauga to get some reps in. Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn, and Justin Champagnie joined Isaac Bonga down at Paramount Fine Foods Centre as the the 905 faced the Long Island Nets’ “B Team” (as they don’t have any NBA or two-way contract players assigned). Perhaps even the border advantage is bleeding into the Raptors 905’s advantage.
Sadly, that advantage did not happen. The Raptors 905 were outworked, outhustled, and outexecuted by the Nets for the most part, despite having the talent advantage. The Raptors 905 needed a desperate rally and a 15-6 run in the last three minutes of regulation to steal the game away from the Nets, 103-102. Isaac Bonga hit the go-ahead three-pointer to put the Raptors ahead with four seconds to go, and he capped that performance off with a solid defensive pressure forcing an airball on the Nets’ final attempt.
Raptors 905: Kevon Harris, Dalano Banton (NBA), Isaac Bonga (NBA), Aaron Best, Malachi Flynn (NBA)
Long Island Nets: Craig Randall II, RaiQuan Gray, Adam Woodbury, Marcus Zegarowski, Bryce Brown
Raptors 905: Isaac Bonga (NBA), Malachi Flynn (NBA), Dalano Banton (NBA), Justin Champagnie (2W)
Long Island Nets: None
Dalano Banton served as the lead ball-handler for the Raptors 905 tonight, tallying 27 points (12-29 shooting), 13 rebounds, and six dimes — including Bonga’s game-winner. Bonga was awesome on both ends of the floor and was the best Raptor tonight with 21 points (four 3PM), seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Reggie Perry chipped in with another double-double, posting 20 and 15, but a lot of his offensive rebounds came from some of his own forced/erratic shots.
Malachi Flynn added 12 points, four assists, and three steals, while Justin Champagnie had an off-shooting night, posting only four points in eight shots. Craig Randall II led the Nets with 20 points, Brandon Rachal added 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Adam Woodbury looked like Jonas Valanciunas with 12 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks.
It’s appalling to see a team with four NBA players and a deep bench play catch up for the most part, especially having a 115-91 FG advantage, turnover advantage (11 vs Nets’ 21), and I guess you can say perimeter shooting advantage — Raptors 905’s 13-for-40 vs Nets’ 5-for-28.
Banton & Bonga getting it started early in the 905 pic.twitter.com/23Ulg0LOio— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) January 11, 2022
An off-shooting night was the theme for the Raptors 905, who had their first game at home without the home crowd. A 5-for-15 shooting to start the game saw a stacked Raptors 905 starting lineup trail the Long Island Nets 18-11. Perhaps what was even more disappointing during this stretch, and for most of the game, was their sub-par defense and attention to detail. A quick 8-0 run put the Raptors 905 up by one, but their offense hit the wall, going 0-6 for the rest of the quarter, trailing 24-19.
The Nets continued to pack the paint and dare the Raptors 905 to shoot from the perimeter in the second quarter. The second-worst three-point shooting team from the Showcase Cup did not disappoint. The Raptors 905 followed up their 3-for-11 three-point shooting in the first period by missing their next five perimeter attempts to start the second quarter. What’s worse, the Raptors went 1-for-6 inside the arc in between the perimeter bricks that they hoisted. Luckily for the Raptors 905, the Nets could not take advantage of this futility and pull away. Banton’s 8 points late in the second period kept them within striking distance, with the Nets leading the Raptors 905 48-46 at the half.
The Raptors 905 looked like they had the momentum on their side as they closed the half. They rode that momentum to start the second half, with Flynn’s midrange jumper and Banton’s putback giving the 905 a 50-48 lead right away. Bonga and Kevon Harris joined forces to give the Raptors 905 their biggest lead, 60-55. This was one of the moments of the game where the team could have used the crowd to energize the arena, as the Nets responded with an 8-2 run to take the lead. The 905 failed to string together any quality possessions at the end of the quarter, with the Nets leading 77-72.
The fourth quarter was mostly the Nets trying to keep the Raptors 905 within arm’s length — until they couldn’t. They built an eight-point lead early in the quarter, as they watched Reggie Perry and Banton brute force their way into the paint with limited success. A scary scene ensued with Breein Tyree running into a Steven Adams-esque brick screen, and he was on the floor for a couple of minutes. With the Raptors 905’s supposedly switchable defense, it was disappointing to see Tyree’s teammates on the floor get too preoccupied looking like they were discussing defensive assignments. Not one of them gave Tyree a head’s up that a screen was coming. Thankfully, Tyree was OK, but he did not return to the game.
Stacked Raptors 905 def shorthanded Long Island Nets, 103-102. Coach Mutombo did what he had to do to steal the game away. Outside of Bonga's late game offensive/defensive heroics, what a disappointing win. #RoadToTheSix pic.twitter.com/xoZYIITdLv— JD Quirante (@jdkeyrants) January 11, 2022
With Tyree needing to get subbed out, it was apparent that it was time to put Flynn back in since he’d been on the bench for three minutes and the Raptors 905 needing a boost offensively. Instead, coach Patrick Mutombo went with defense, and called Aaron Best’s number. With four minutes left and an 85-92 deficit, coach Mutombo brought in another starter to take Best out. It made sense, as the Raptors were labouring offensively, and we’re entering crunch time minutes. So yeah, Mutombo called Harris’ number instead of Flynn. Harris offers positional versatility, shooting, rebounding, and defense, unlike Flynn. Unfortunately, the defensive lineup did not live up to the expectation up to that point. It looked like the game was over when Justin Champagnie committed a horrible turnover that led to a dunk and an 86-97 deficit with 2:18 remaining.
The Raptors 905 called a timeout and set up Harris for a three-pointer. Champagnie atoned for his previous mistake by forcing a Nets turnover. With burly Woodbury out, Perry easily got to the paint for a layup, and now we had a four-point deficit with less than 90 seconds to go. Discount Zion Raiquan Gray responded with a layup. Still, the Raptors 905 quickly found a mismatch with Champagnie on the low block where he easily backed down Randall II. Perry and Champagnie trapped Josh Gray and forced a turnover on the next possession. Banton’s layup was blocked by Rachal, and the Raptors 905 sent Josh Gray to the line for two free throws. Gray made his first shot, coach Mutombo called a timeout to ice him. The tactic worked, and Bonga’s drive to the basket sent him to the charity stripe, but he also split his freebies.
Champagnie committed another error with an overzealous defense on Gray, who was pretty much near the half-court. That foul sent Gray to the free-throw line with 32.8 seconds to go. Gray split his free throws, missing the back-end of his freebies. Banton went for an early transition trifecta that bricked but got the offensive glass. Reggie Perry took advantage of the broken play, and Banton found him for a corner three-pointer, cutting the lead to 98-100 with 21 seconds to go. The Raptors fouled Raiquan Gray immediately, and he converted his free throws.
Coach Mutombo called for a “Reset Timeout” to advance the ball to the half-court and call a SLOB play. Harris initially missed a curling Champagnie towards the basket. Still, he threw the ball to him anyway, and Champagnie had to spin around his defender for a layup, cutting the lead to 100-102 with 17 seconds to go. Perry sent Rachal to the line, who missed both free throws. With 12 seconds to go, Perry secured the rebound, got the ball to Banton to make something happen, and saw Bonga at the 45 calling for the ball. He smoothly stroked the three-pointer for the game-winner with four seconds to go.
The game was over when: There’s the Bonga three-pointer. However, Bonga really put a stamp on the game by guarding the Nets’ best shooter on the floor (Gray shot 46.7% behind the arc during the Showcase Cup) for the final possession, and his length and pursuit forced him to an air-ball.
Up Next: The Raptors 905 will travel to Washington to face the Capital City Go Gos on Thursday, January 13th.